Environmental Performance Methodology

This tool draws on publicly available FAO and RFMO global production data for fisheries and aquaculture. These data pertain to 2021 production, the most recent year such data are available. 

Specific production data sources included:

  •  Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT)
  • International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT)
  • Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC)
  • International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF)
  • Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
Environmental Performance Analysis

Certification and ratings coverage was assigned to the relevant species and country in the production dataset. These data represent a current snapshot of certification and ratings coverage of global seafood production as of July 2023. Decision rules were then applied to deal with coverage overlaps between the programs. These rules are described in detail below.

Data Manual

This tool displays global fisheries and aquaculture production data overlaid with certification and ratings data from the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), Global Seafood Alliance Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP), Fair Trade USA (FTUSA), Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), the Qingdao Marine Conservation Society (QMCS), Seafood Watch (SFW), and Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP). The production data, ratings, and certifications are updated annually each spring. Please contact us with any questions or comments.

Production Data

This tool incorporates 2021 global capture and aquaculture production data sourced primarily from the FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department. Higher-resolution datasets from the Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMO) were incorporated to improve the accuracy of tuna data. Production of aquatic mammals and reptiles, and non-edible commodities such as coral, were excluded to properly display seafood sustainability. Due to a two-year time lag in the availability of global production data, the latest 2023 certification and ratings data have been assigned to the 2021 production volumes.

Data Tool Decision Rules

  1. Certified and rated volumes are capped at those in the seafood production dataset. This may cause some coverage categories to be lower in this dashboard than on the relevant organization’s website.
  2. When certified coverage overlaps, each certification is allocated volume based on their percentage of their summed claim (e.g. MSC claims 10 mt is certified, FT claims 90 mt is certified = MSC gets 10% of reported production, FT 90%). These overlaps result in lower certified volumes in the ‘All’ organizations view when compared with those reported by individual certifications. However, overlaps in coverage between ASC and BAP are not accounted for in this dataset, so overestimation of certification coverage for farmed production occurs for some key species like shrimp and salmon.
  3. When certifications and ratings apply to the same production, certified volumes reduce Seafood Watch and QMCS rated volumes, then Not Yet Assessed.
  4. When Seafood Watch and QMCS ratings apply to the same production, volume is allocated to the Seafood Watch rating first, then QMCS second. Therefore, QMCS ratings in the tool are for production not otherwise rated or certified.
  5. Under Certification Assessment, FIPs and AIPs reduce Seafood Watch and QMCS Yellow, then Red, then Not Yet Assessed.
  6. Under Ratings Assessment only reduces Not Yet Assessed.
  7. Not Yet Assessed is the volume that does not fall into any of the categories above.
  8. T75 sectors are assigned to each relevant row in the production dataset so no overlaps or reductions need to be considered.
Aquaculture Stewardship Council Data Description

Data on production volumes maintained by the ASC programme are collected through third-party audits against ASC standards by conformity assessment bodies. Producers provide data for assessment reports that detail species produced, numbers of farm sites within a unit of certification (UoC), harvested product volumes from the previous calendar year, and farm performance during that production cycle related to environmental and social indicators. Only data from final audit reports are applied. The certification volumes reported represents annual production volume as reported to ASC in that month (not monthly production volume). The tool applies ASC data from a specified point in time. The total certified volume will fluctuate from month to month as farms enter and leave the ASC programme or adjustments from particular farm sites are received through surveillance audits. ASC data are provided for certified farms in aggregate at the country and species level.

  • Species production at ASC-certified farm sites are matched to species occurring in the FAO production database at the country level. If a particular species produced by an ASC-certified farm site is not identified for the given country in the FAO production data, then ASC allocates that volume to a lower taxonomic level or species grouping that occurs in the FAO production data for the particular country (e.g. if no Salmo salar is produced, the volume could be assigned to Salmonids nei).
  • In instances where the ASC-certified production volumes may exceed the species and country-specific volumes reported in the FAO production data, ASC defers to the FAO value in order to maintain the correct total global production volume.
  • For ASC farms “In-Assessment,” production volumes are not reported by the producer but estimated based on average ASC-certified farm site production volume for the same species in the same country. Where ASC does not yet have any certified species in a country, but farms in that country are In-Assessment, we do not provide an estimate of the volume.
Best Aquaculture Practices Data Description

Data on production volumes certified to the BAP program are collected during a third-party audit to the Best Aquaculture Practices farm standards. At the time of audit, producers provide harvest volumes from the previous calendar year of production which are verified by the auditor at time of audit. Only data from final audit reports are applied.

  • Species production at BAP-certified farm sites are matched to species occurring in the FAO production data based at the country level. If a particular species in production at a BAP-certified farm site does not occur in the FAO production data for a particular country, the BAP-certified production volume is allocated to a lower taxonomic level or species grouping that occurs in the FAO production data for the particular country (e.g. if no Salmo salar is produced, the volume could be assigned to Salmonids nei).
  • In case the BAP-certified production volumes exceed the species and country-specific volume reported in the FAO production data, the FAO value is reported instead.
  • BAP has only reported volumes for actively certified farms, and these values can change as facilities enter or exit the BAP program.
  • It should be noted that some volumes have been excluded for confidentiality reasons (i.e when there are less than 4 producers of a species in a given country).
FairTrade USA Data Description
  • FairTrade USA production volume data is extracted from audit reports verified by third-party conformity assessment bodies.
  • Included volume is harvested or produced under Fair Trade terms.
  • In exceptional cases when audit reports offer missing or contradictory values (ie. volume sold exceeds volume produced), the reported volume sold on Fair Trade terms is an estimate based on Fair Trade USA’s transaction dataset.
  • When volumes produced under Fair Trade terms exceed the FAO value, the FAO value is mapped instead.
Marine Stewardship Council Data Description

Catch data is extracted by MSC from assessment and surveillance reports submitted from third-party conformity assessment bodies. The source data can be viewed on an individual assessment in the “Total Allowable Catch and Catch Data” table of each report on the MSC website. The MSC mapped data in each report to the individual units of assessment and certification (UoA/UoC) for each fishery.

Extraction rules

The structure and granularity of data in the reported catch table can vary, along with mapping to the UoC/UoA. MSC applied the following decision rules when extracting:

  • When the number of catch records is less than the number of UoA/UoC records, it is evenly distributed across the different attributes. These include the species, ocean area and gear type.
  • Catch reported as maximum (“less than 2 tonnes,” for example) is stored as that maximum (2, in our example).
  • When catch has been summed across multiple seasons, an average is applied to provide a single season estimate.
  • The most recently available catch year is extracted per UoA/UoC. The actual catch year does vary and, in most cases, is two years behind the report.

Decision rules

When mapping MSC data to global capture and aquaculture production data, adjustments were made where records did not join explicitly on species, major ocean area and country.

Matching records that did not join explicitly required manual investigation. Where, for example, a species is recorded in two adjacent ocean areas in the MSC record and only one in the FAO, the catch is mapped to the FAO record. The same logic is applied to countries.

Qingdao Marine Conservation Society Data Description

QMCS’ ratings are based on assessments by the China Seafood Sustainability Assessment (CSSA) team, which strictly follow the assessment criteria and refer to the latest scientific data. Commonly referred sources of assessment data include: literature, official releases, objective and fair media reports, data collected from field research, expert interviews, etc. However, data insufficiency exists in many fisheries, or only partial data are publicly available, which will inevitably affect the assessment results to a certain extent. The CSSA team is committed to carrying out the assessment of the species objectively and fairly by comprehensively investigating the fishery or aquaculture practices, fully using the publicly available data, and valuing the reviewing of scientific and industry experts. The assessment report will be open to the public. Experts and scholars participating in the assessment work can choose whether or not to sign their names on the assessment report. The CSAA team reserves the right of final interpretation of the relevant assessment results.

Seafood Watch Data Description
  • Seafood Watch’s ratings data are pulled from the Seafood Watch Assessment Tool which is the online platform with which reports are created, scored and stored.
  • Only currently published or in progress ratings with significant volume are assigned to the seafood production dataset.
  • When production method is not specified in the production dataset and the Seafood Watch assessment does not include explicit production volumes for each, the reported production volume is split evenly between Seafood Watch ratings (e.g. 25% each for the four applicable ratings).
Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Data Description

Data and mapping to fishery improvement projects (FIPs), aquaculture improvement projects (AIPs), and Target 75 were provided by SFP. A brief description on sources and mapping procedures for each of these programs is provided below.

FIPs

  • FIP volumes were obtained from fisheryprogress.org,1 or the specific FIP websites for FIPs not reporting on fisheryprogress.org.
  • Only FIPs that are active and making progress (i.e., FIPs with a progress rating A to C, or formed in the past 12 months and not yet rated) were included. The information on status and progress2 of FIPs, as of June 30, 2022, was obtained from fisheryprogress.org and www.fishsource.org.
  • The latest year for which production volume is reported may differ from FIP to FIP. However, and for the purpose of this mapping exercise, all the FIP volumes used in the analysis were assumed to refer to 2020.
  • At the moment, regardless of the FIP scope (e.g., species, stocks, gears, and flag countries covered), only the overall FIP volume is generally reported / available. For cases where FIPs cover multiple countries, FAO regions, species, or gears, the volumes by FIP component (i.e., by species, gear, etc) were inferred based on the respective proportions of the total production.

AIPs

  • AIP volumes were provided by the AIP Directory, an independent and dedicated platform for information about aquaculture improvement projects around the world.
  • Estimated annual production volumes are provided by AIP representatives from each of the eight AIPs currently published on the Directory via mandatory six month progress updates.
  • The AIP Directory only includes AIPs operating at scales greater than the farm level. These focus on the adoption and implementation of policies that support sustainable aquaculture and improved performance at both the farm and zonal scales.

Target 75 sectors

SFP’s Target 75 Initiative aims to ensure that 75 percent or more of world seafood production in key sectors is either sustainable or making regular, verifiable improvements. The initiative aims to mobilize improvements in as much of the world’s production, as quickly as possible by working with industry partners. The initiative currently includes 13 sectors,3 which are defined largely by species. The seafood sectors included in Target 75 represent roughly 40% of total global production.

Mapping against the existing T75 sectors was performed using the sector’s most recent definitions. More information on Target 75 and each of the sector’s latest definitions is available on the SFP website’s T75 page.

Notes

1 Most (>90%) of the FIPs now report their information in fisheryprogress.org. This includes the estimated FIP volume, which was used in this analysis. For detailed information about the scope (species, jurisdiction, flag countries), progress, or other specific attributes, of individual FIPs, please visit www.FisheryProgress.org, https://www.fishsource.org/improvement-project, or the respective FIP pages (for FIPs not reporting in FisheryProgress). (Back to citation)

2 For more information on FIP progress rating, visit www.fishsource.org/faq. (Back to citation)

3 The Target 75 sectors are: Classic (wild whitefish), Coldwater crab, Farmed whitefish (tilapia-pangasius), Global Marine Ingredients (GMI), Large pelagics, Large shrimp, Octopus, Salmon, Small shrimp, Snapper-Grouper, Squid, Swimming crab, and Tuna. (Back to citation)